Wednesday Wines – Episode 185 – Casa Ferreirinha Reserva Especial Vertical & 2014 Launch


Casa Ferreirinha winemaker Luís Sottomayor made the decision to declare 2014 Reserva Especial in December 2022 making this is the 18th vintage of ‘Reserva Especial’ produced.

Previous Reserva Especial vintages: 1960, 1962, 1974, 1977, 1980, 1984, 1986, 1989, 1990, 1992, 1994, 1996, 1997, 2001, 2003, 2007, 2009.

Barca-Velha vintages: 1952, 1953, 1954, 1955, 1957, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1978, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1985, 1991, 1995, 1999, 2000, 2004, 2008, 2011.

1984 Casa Ferreirinha, Reserva Especial

Grape Varieties: 40% Tinta Roriz, 40% Touriga Franca, 15% Tinta Amarela, 5% Touriga

Nacional Ageing: 12 – 18 months in new 225-litre Portuguese oak barrels

Alcohol: 11.5%

Luís did not make this vintage because he was doing his national service.  This is a smooth, ripe and oaky wine with a lot of aged characteristics.  There are dusty and earthy undertones beneath ripe red fruit notes, and it feels not dissimilar to an old claret.  It is unusual to have Tinta Roriz in charge in a Reserva Especial blend, and this brings a keen grip of acidity that supports the fruit and maintains a sense of freshness.  Luís explained that a combination of both low-altitude and high-altitude fruit achieves the natural equilibrium found in this vintage. 18/20

1989 Casa Ferreirinha, Reserva Especial

Grape Varieties: Touriga Franca, Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz, Tinta Amarela

Ageing: 12 – 18 months in new 225-litre Portuguese oak barrels

Alcohol: 12.5% | Total Acidity: 5.3g/L | pH: 3.5 | Residual Sugar: <2g/L

This was Luís’ first harvest.  There is a lot more flesh apparent here, with more colour, too, and it lacks the red fruit fragrance of the 1984 vintage.  Instead, it is darker, hotter, and spicier, with stunning tannins on the finish.  This wine tastes so close to a Barca-Velha model that it is incredible.  Interestingly, Ferreirinha sold this vintage after the 1990 vintage because it had such presence and impact, and it needed to settle.  There are very few signs of age here, and this wine is 34 years old.  The mid-palate is full, proud, densely fruit-driven, and I cannot believe the energy in this wine.  19/20

1992 Casa Ferreirinha, Reserva Especial (from magnum)

Grape Varieties: 100% Touriga Nacional

Ageing: 12 – 18 months in new 225-litre Portuguese oak barrels

Alcohol: 12% | Total Acidity: 4.6g/L | pH: 3.58 | Residual Sugar: <2g/L

What a difference a year makes.  This time, the overt power and presence of the 1989 is a distant memory when this regal 1992 seeps into your system.  Textural, succulent, bold and plush, this is the only Reserva Especial that is 100% Touriga Nacional.  Muscular, powerful, elemental and incredibly long, there is no colour fading from the centre of the glass to the rim, and the density of the fruit is staggering.  There is little chance that a 100% Touriga will ever be made again, so this is a one-off work of art.  I cannot believe this is 31-year-old wine – it seems just a couple of years old.  This vintage is nothing short of heroic.  19.5+/20

2007 Casa Ferreirinha, Reserva Especial

Grape Varieties: 40% Touriga Franca, 30% Touriga Nacional, 30% Tinta Roriz

Ageing: 12 – 18 months in new 225-litre French oak barrels (75% new, 25% used)

Alcohol: 14% | Total Acidity: 5.83g/L | pH: 3.6 | Residual Sugar: <2g/L

Chief winemaker José Maria Soares Franco left Ferreirinha in 2007, and Luís Sottomayor took over 100% of the responsibilities.  The 2007 vintage is less wild and more subtle and layered with a more red-fruited theme than the previous wines.  Precision viticulture, more control and selection and gentler extraction resulted in a step change in elegance and silkiness in 2007.  Interestingly, these changes meant that Luís was convinced that while this wine would never be released as Barca-Velha because it is more refined and quieter than a typical B-V, it would be a superstar Reserva Especial.  19+/20

2014 Casa Ferreirinha, Reserva Especial (Approx. £250.00,,,,

Grape Varieties: 42% Touriga Franca, 34% Touriga Nacional, 13% Tinta Roriz, 11% Tinto Cão

Ageing: 18 months in 225-litre French oak barrels (75% of which were new)

Alcohol: 14% | Total Acidity: 5.5g/L | pH: 3.5 | Residual Sugar: 1g/L

There is a fascinating blend of black, red and blue fruit in this peacock’s tail of a wine.  This is another wine that conjures up the word ‘heroic’.  Powerful, complex, primary, and even though it is nine years old, it has the impact and presence of a cask sample, albeit with extraordinary harmony.  Darker and more brooding than the 2007 vintage, while there is active tannin, a brooding sense of rawness and tension, the flavours are all facing in the same direction, and there is a sense of incredible organisation.  While tasting this wine, I asked Luís a little more detail about how he makes his wines.  It was then that he told me something I had never heard before.  Luís co-ferments throughout the harvest, blending low and high-altitude plots from the beginning.  This means that he makes mini-Barca-Velhas, or ‘soloists’, and then he blends these ‘made wines’ into an overall grand blend, which is, to all intents and purposes, a ‘choir of soloists’.  Perhaps this is why these wines are so exceptionally balanced and they age so slowly.  19+/20

2020 Casa Ferreirinha, Callabriga Douro Tinto ( Approx. £21.99,,,,,

Grape Varieties: 45% Touriga Franca, 35% Touriga Nacional, 20% Tinta Roriz

Ageing: 12 months in 25% new American oak and 75% used French oak barrels

Alcohol: 14% | Total Acidity: 5.9g/L | pH: 3.6 | Residual Sugar: 1g/L

Bright, pure, fleshy and modern, this is a forward style with lovely round black and red fruit notes and a spicy, oaky core.  Made from ‘drinkers not thinkers’ – I did not come up with this line!  18/20

2020 Casa Ferreirinha, Quinta da Leda Douro Tinto (Approx. £55.99,,,,

Grape Varieties: 43% Touriga Franca, 37% Touriga Nacional, 11% Tinta Cão, 5% Tinta Roriz, 4% Sousão

Ageing: 12 months in French oak barrels (50% new)

Alcohol: 14% | Total Acidity: 6.3g/L | pH: 3.6 | Residual Sugar: 0.9g/L

This is a stunningly serious wine with extraordinary class and detail.  I wrote ‘utterly gobsmacking’ in my notebook – not words I often use.  There is phenomenal balance, a stunning mid-palate, and epic length here, and this makes 2020 Leda the finest value £50 red wine on earth, not least if you want to drink a bottle now or in 30 years!   19+/20

Ferreira, Dona Antónia 30-Year-Old Tawny Port (Approx. £111.99,,,,,

This is a stunningly serious wine with extraordinary class and detail.  I have never liked a 30-year-old Tawny in my life.  I feel that 20-year-old Tawnies hit the perfume and fruit notes, and 40-year-old Tawnies bring aged tones and class, while 30-year-old Tawnies fall flat in the middle with none of the aforementioned qualities.  This fantastic wine shows the art of blending off to a tee. There are pain perdu tones, roasted fig and butterscotch notes and thrilling red fruit holding all the Tawny flavours aloft.  This is an exquisite Tawny with more class than I have tasted in years.  Apparently, Luís found this wine at 20 years of age too shy and ‘fresh’ and he knew it would build further over the next 10 years.  It is no surprise that he was spot on!  19/20